Citing health, embattled Plano councilman Tom Harrison will not seek re-election

Plano City Council voted April 9, 2018, to order a recall election for council member Tom Harrison after a group of Plano residents gathered thousands of signatures. The recall election was later canceled.

Plano City Council voted April 9, 2018, to order a recall election for council member Tom Harrison after a group of Plano residents gathered thousands of signatures. The recall election was later canceled.

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Plano City Council member Tom Harrison, who defied calls to resign last year after anti-Islam posts were found on his personal Facebook page, will not seek re-election as he deals with health issues.

Harrison, 74, is one of the council's most vocal opponents of urbanization, often voting against zoning requests for development projects that incorporated dense apartment buildings. He was elected in 2015 and would have been eligible to run for a second term in May.

But he opted not to seek another four-year term, citing circulatory issues from a previous leg amputation, spokesman Allan Samara said in a Jan. 10 statement.

Harrison plans to serve the remainder of his term, according to the statement.

“I was elected by promising the taxpayers that I would be their voice in the Plano City Council … and to attempt to control apartment growth with the attendant issues of schools, traffic, infrastructure, safety and taxes,” Harrison said in the statement. “During my tenure, Plano has expanded and grown into a major business hub in North Texas. The city tax rate moderated, and the growth of some of the burden on homeowners, with it, and I am gratified by these victories.“

Harrison came under fire last February for sharing an anti-Islam video from his personal Facebook page. The video showed students wearing hijabs at their classroom desks, with the caption, "Share if you think Trump should ban Islam in American schools.”

The video brought additional scrutiny to other Facebook links Harrison shared in November 2016, including a link to an article that falsely asserted all modern-day slaveholders are Muslim. All seven of Harrison's fellow council members condemned the posts in a Feb. 18 meeting and either suggested he should resign or called for his resignation outright. The council also voted 7-1 that day to censure him.

Harrison declined to resign and, in a written statement, said the video he shared "was not meant as a personal attack against the Islamic faith."

The posts also prompted some residents to gather signatures in an attempt to remove Harrison from office through a recall election. Harrison successfully challenged the recall effort in court, arguing that those attempting to unseat him failed to gain the number of signatures required by the city charter.

A district court judge found a discrepancy in the city's charter language and eventually determined that there weren't enough petition signatures. The recall election was canceled.

In a statement Thursday, Harrison said he was proud of his efforts to limit apartment growth and tax-rate increases.

“Plano is an awesome town that grew too fast with an uncontrolled emphasis on urbanization over suburban issues from the growth," he said. "Plano’s style of controlled growth attracted people from all over the state and the country.

"Some labeled Plano as the 'Park Cities of Collin County.' "

The filing period for Harrison's Place 7 seat as well as three other city council seats opens on Jan. 16.

By Daniel Houston
Daniel Houston covers Plano city government, transportation, business and education for Community Impact Newspaper. A Fort Worth native and Baylor University graduate, Daniel reported previously for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City and The Dallas Morning News.


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